Explore the Coast and "Country" Side of Bideford Bay
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Buckland Brewer Countryside photo copyright Pat Adams  
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Buckland Brewer FROM MILLS TO MOOR
Approximate driving distance when touring North Devon
The village of Buckland Brewer is surrounded by a diverse landscape of rolling meadows, woodlands, moor and forestry plantations. The impressive tower of the Church of St. Mary (St. Benedict) is 75 feet high and can be seen for miles around. This is truly farming country where many of the isolated farms such as West Hele have passed from generation to generation. In his book "Buckland Brewer in the Nineteen Twenties" Leonard P. Blight, a thatcher by trade, writes about the village and its people describing both the fun and the hardships of living in a rural community at that time. He was born in 1914 and records life growing up on a farm and gives a vivid description of hay making prior to mechanisation. In those days it was traditional for the hay to be "poked" or put in big heaps around the field and left overnight. In the morning, when the dew had dried, it was spread around again. The hay rick was constructed using man (or boy) power, horse, elevator and if the rick was being made in the hayfield the hay was swept to the site by a special sweeper called a tumble jack. Today you can experience life in a traditional country setting but still be within easy reach of the main port of Bideford and the pretty coastal villages of Appledore, Bucks Mills, Clovelly, Hartland, and Instow. Westward Ho!, well known for its unique pebble ridge, golden sands and the Royal North Devon Golf Club, is just 4 miles away. The market town of Great Torrington, home to Dartington Crystal, RHS Garden Rosemoor and the Torrington 1646 Civil War Experience is 12 miles. The village has its own local shop, public house, butchers shop, primary school, church and methodist chapel. The Village Stores has lost its Post Office but the Mobile Van continues to provide a vital service for the village as in earlier times when Bill "Post Man" Branch used to walk from Buckland Brewer to Bideford every morning with the mail, waiting for the outgoing mail in the hut by the Methodist Church until the afternoon before making the 7 mile trek back to Bideford. At one time he even did a daily post round of 17½ miles to Thornhillhead and back. Buckland Brewer's most famous postman, however was Edward Capern, the "Postman Poet". In those days not many people had cars and apart from pony and trap or bicycle walking was the only way to get around. Children who did not live in the village had to walk as much as 6 miles a day to attend the village school. Records show that there has been a village school since 1877 and in the early 1920s there was an average attendance of 110 pupils. The Coach & Horses, built in the 13th Century, was once a busy coaching house on the old thoroughfare from Bideford to Holsworthy. The thatched two-storey inn still retains its low beamed ceilings and olde worlde charm. In the 17th Century it is reputed that the inn was used as a court room, the cellars as a gaol and and an execution drop was situated in the main bar. Originally there was an Inn, coach house, stables and shop (all thatched) set around a cobbled courtyard. The stables, coach house & shop were destroyed in a fire in the early 1920s, the stables were never rebuilt but a garage replaced the coach house and shop. At this time the inn was owned by Starkey, Knight and Ford Brewery of Tiverton. The "Tivy" was a favourite beer in those days. Today the Coach & Horses is as picturesque and popular as ever, the plain cobbled courtyard in front of the Inn, however, is now a colourful sunny garden with tables for eating and drinking al-fresco. The Parish of Buckland Brewer is one of the largest in the area and nestles between the banks of two rivers, the Yeo and the Duntz. The parish starts at its most northern tip at Orleigh Mills, where the two rivers meet and runs approximately 5½ miles to Thornhillhead at the edge of Thorne Moor to the south. The widest part is approximately 3½ miles from Wrangworthy in the west to The Glen on the banks of the River Duntz in the east. From Orleigh Mills, the River Yeo meanders down through the Yeo Valley between the picturesque parishes of Littleham & Monkleigh then flows onwards to join the River Torridge at Landcross just outside Bideford. There are many public footpaths in the area including trails through Melbury, Powlers Piece and Winslade Forestry Plantations on the western border with Parkham. A 12 acre fishery at Melbury Reservoir run by the SW Lakes Trust, is open all year round and is stocked with mirror and common carp, bream, tench, roach, rudd, perch and eels. The War Memorial inscribed with the names of those in the parish who fell in the First World War 1914-18. The names of those who gave their lives in the Second World War, 1939-45 have since been added. Across the road from the Church is the Methodist Church, known as the William Reed Memorial Chapel which was built in 1903. The impressive Church of St. Mary (St. Benedict) has a Norman south doorway and the 15th Century windows survived the rebuild of 1879/80. The Church is in a particularly picturesque setting with an old avenue of trees leading to the Church door. There is a brass plate on the north wall of the church in memory of John Taylor who was born in Buckland in 1827. The Taylor family were bell-founders who cast many bells in Buckland Brewer for towers in and around Devon including those at St. Mary's which has a peal of 6 Bells, the tenor weighing 12¾ cwt. The first vicar on record, Victor Walter De Denetone was inducted on 26th September, 1279 and remained in his post for thirty-three years until 1312. The village has had many vicars since that date. 1966 saw the arrival of the Reverand Underhill who was the last vicar to actually live in the village. Today Buckland Brewer is part of the Hartland Deanery and Reverand Phil Goodey, the Team Rector lives at the rectory in Parkham and currently oversees the villages of Abbotsham, Alwington, Parkham and Buckland Brewer. Historical Information - Leonard P. Blight, Buckland Brewer in the Nineteen Twenties, Monica Wyatt, Historic Inns of Devon, Mike Salter, The Old Parish Churches of Devon available from Bideford Library
Int the Village Square from Tower Hill - Babb's Butchers Shop
St. Mary's Church, Buckland Brewer  from Tower Hill photo copyright Pat Adams
Coach and Horses Buckaland Brewer 2009 photo copyright Pat Adams
Glen - Parish border line across the River Duntz to the east
On the border line!
War Memorial St. Mary's Church Buckland Brewer 2003 photo copyright Pat Adams
St. Mary's Church Buckland Brewer 2009 photo copyright Pat Adams
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